This Day in the Civil War

Monday Aug. 19 1861

The concept of “objectivity in news coverage” was not even an ambition in 1860’s America. Newspapers were the property and mouthpieces of individual owners. While the vast majority of papers in both North and South fell promptly in line with the politics of their regions, there were a few exceptions on both sides. Today the offices of the Easton and West Chester newspapers in Pennsylvania, and Haverhill, Massachusetts, received unwanted, albeit unofficial, visitors. The management was suspected to be holding pro-Southern sentiments, and various of the readership objected. The publisher in Haverhill was subjected to the tar-and-feather treatment in an attempt to change his feelings, while the other papers’ offices were attacked by mobs and damaged.

Tuesday Aug. 19 1862

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad was a vital transportation route, both for the Confederacy and for internal traffic within a very long state like Tennessee. Taking control of this facility was a matter of great urgency for both Union and Confederate forces. The Union side had the upper hand on parts of it and intended to keep it. A raid set out today that would last for three days. Areas covered along the rail line included Pilot Knob, Drake’s Creek, Manscoe Creek, Edgefield Junction, and the Hartsville Road near Gallatin. A similar mission was launched in northern Mississippi, from Rienzi through the Marietta area.

Wednesday Aug. 19 1863

The last time they had tried to hold the drawings for the Federal draft in New York City a massive riot had broken out which led to lynching's, arsons, looting, and the deaths of several hundred people. Troops who had just been through the battle of Gettysburg had to be called in to restore order. There was no escaping the inevitable, though, and today the call up was resumed. The bitterness of recent immigrants, primarily the Irish, who had no desire to fight for the liberation of slaves who they saw as competition in the search for jobs, had not abated, but violent resistance ceased. Some took the $300 bounty offered to serve as substitutes for others.

Friday Aug. 19 1864

The battle of the Weldon Railroad continued today south of Petersburg, Virginia. A. P. Hill’s Confederates slammed into the Union infantry of Gen. G. K. Warren. The ground being fought over today had been similarly contested the day before as the Federal forces pushed past the Globe Tavern. Today the contest went the other way as the Confederates regained much of the ground lost. The division of S. W. Crawford was particularly hard-hit and lost more than 2500 men to capture. At sunset, however, Warren still held the vital rail link.

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